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U.S. nuke envoy to visit Seoul amid stalled nuclear talks with N.K.

All News 06:00 July 07, 2020

SEOUL, July 7 (Yonhap) -- The top U.S. envoy for North Korea was set to arrive in Seoul on Tuesday for talks with his counterpart and other senior officials amid the deadlock in nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang and stalled inter-Korean relations.

The three-day visit by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, who doubles as the point man for North Korea, comes just days after the North rejected the possibility of another summit between leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Biegun is expected to hold talks with Seoul's nuclear envoy, Lee Do-hoon, about pending North Korea issues. Other officials he is also expected to meet include Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Sei-young.

He could also meet with Seoul's new national security advisor Suh Hoon.

North Korea said Saturday that it feels no need to meet with the United States for talks, accusing Washington of taking advantage of dialogue between the two countries as "a tool for grappling its political crisis."

The rejection came after talk gained traction of another summit between Trump and Kim after President Moon Jae-in said last week that he would push for such a meeting before November's U.S. presidential election.

Trump and Kim have met three times to try to reach a deal on dismantling North Korea's nuclear weapons program in exchange for U.S. concessions. Little progress has been made due to the gap over the scope of Pyongyang's denuclearization and sanctions relief by Washington.

In Washington early last week, Biegun said at a forum that chances of another summit between the two leaders before the election would be low but reaffirmed the U.S. remains willing to engage with the North.

Earlier this month, Lee visited Washington and met with Biegun. The two were believed to have discussed heightened tensions with North Korea in the wake of Pyongyang's blowing up of an inter-Korean liaison office building last month.

After Seoul, Biegun is expected to travel to Japan.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun leaves for Japan in the Gimpo International Airport, in western Seoul, on Dec. 17, 2019, after wrapping up his trip to South Korea for talks on North Korea's denuclearization. (Yonhap)

elly@yna.co.kr
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